By doctor's orders or personal preference, going gluten-free is a steadily growing trend, and businesses and restaurants are taking note.
Nourishe is one such business, a local food company that makes specialty gluten-free baking mixes. Since most baking mixes are primarily composed of wheat flour and off-limits to gluten-sensitive eaters, Nourishe uses almond, coconut, and flax-seed flours.
In the Trolley Stop Market Cannery, a commercial kitchen where small food businesses can produce items for sale to the general public, Nicole Heckman and Cameron Waggoner join Richard Westbrook and Della Adams to churn out gluten-free baking mixes for muffins, waffles, and pancakes. Soon, Heckman says, they'll add a sandwich thin, almond shortbread cookies, and pizza dough to their repertoire.
The two couples began Nourishe after meeting at their Crossfit gym and taking up the Paleo diet, a modern take on the grain-free diet of wild plants and animals that cavemen are thought to have maintained. The goal of the diet is to cut out grains, dairy products, refined salt and sugar, and other processed ingredients, but the folks behind Nourishe quickly found them-selves craving the baked treats from their pre-Paleo days. Two years ago, they began testing recipes for the Nourishe baking mixes.
"Sure, it's gluten-free, but the first thing you should notice is that it tastes good," Heckman says. "The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, even from people who aren't gluten-free."
The mixes cost $11.99 per box, but gluten-free shoppers will be accustomed to the higher price of organic and specialty ingredients. Plus, now through Mother's Day, each mix is $10.49.
The three varieties available — Chocolate Ginger Macadamia Muffin Mix, Cinnamon Raisin Pecan Muffin Mix, and Richard's Favorite Waffles and Pancake Mix — can be purchased at the Memphis Farmers Market, the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, at many of the Crossfit locations around the city, and on Amazon.
Though all of the items on Huey's new gluten-free menu are reshuffled items from their regular menu, special projects manager Samantha Boggs Dean says customers will appreciate the ease of ordering from a separate menu.
"About six months ago, our servers started telling us that a lot of customers were asking if we had any gluten-free menu items," Dean says. "At the time, we didn't, so we started looking into it. We felt like there was a need for it."
The Huey's kitchen is not gluten-free, so for those with serious gluten allergies the menu bears a warning about the potential of cross-contamination. Otherwise, diners can choose from the Huey's burger served without a bun, the steak sandwich without bread, grilled salmon or mahi-mahi with vegetables, the cheese and sausage plate, and four salad options served without crackers.
The menu isn't a particularly adventurous take on gluten-free dining, but Dean believes it will fit the bill when families come in with an array of dietary needs.
"We want families to have the choice so that everyone can be happy. Someone can get their burger, someone can eat heart-healthy, someone can do gluten-free," Dean says. "We figure gluten-free is going to be around for a while, so we may as well start reacting."
Huey's Restaurant, www.hueyburger.com